This section of Love Is Blind is dedicated to Lauren Taylor, who gave me the idea fort it after I had been struggling with an incurable case of writer‘s block. Thanks, Lauren!!!

Love Is Blind: Perception
by JoAnna Walsvik
part 7/9

"Lieutenant? Lieutenant Torres, can you hear me?"

B‘Elanna moaned, wincing as the throbbing in her head increased.
It felt like a thousand hammers were pounding simultaneously in her skull.

"Lieutenant?" The anxious voice cut through the murky fog surrounding her brain, and B‘Elanna realized that she was lying on a hard surface—a very uncomfortable hard surface.

Effortfully, she cracked open her eyelids and patiently waited until the blurry figure above her focused into one person—Lieutenant Carey. Surrounding him was half of her Engineering staff, and all of them were staring down at her, concern written all over their faces.
"What—what happened?" she managed to ask, blinking dizzily.

"We were attacked," Carey answered. "You were knocked unconscious by an exploding console."

"Attacked? By whom? Why?" B‘Elanna demanded. Immediatley she regretted her outburst, for it caused the throbbing in her head to increase.

"The comm system is down, but before it collapsed we were in contact with the bridge. Apparently, we‘ve inadvertantly trespassed into someone‘s property," Sue Nicoletti shrugged.

"So what else is new?" B‘Elanna muttered darkly. "Seems like we‘re always trespassing somewhere."

The engineering staff exchanged relieved looks. They were now fully certain that their chief would be all right.

Carey very carefully assisted B‘Elanna as she attempted to sit up. It took a few tries, but eventually she was able to lean against a nearby console, one of the few that wasn‘t damaged. "I think you have a concussion," Carey warned. "Unfortunately, as a result of the damage to the ship, all the unlocking mechanisms in the doors have shorted out.. We‘re cut off from sickbay, the bridge, the mess hall—everywhere. And so is everyone else."

B‘Elanna closed her eyes and silently groaned. Not only did her head feel like it was about to split in two, but there was a nagging thought in the back of her mind...something that she should remember, but she couldn‘t quite gather her thoughts enough to pinpoint it.

"Tom," she suddenly gasped, her eyes flying open. "Do we have internal sensors?"
"No. We barely have anything but life support."

Oh, gods, B‘Elanna thought in horror. *Tom is all alone in his quarters—maybe he‘s hurt or...or worse. I have to get to him.* Resolutely, ignoring the throbbing of her still-aching head, she struggled to her feet.

"All right. First priority is the doors. We‘ll work from there," she ordered.

Hang on, Tom. I‘m coming.

Tom Paris blindly groped along the walls of his quarters, feeling for something—anything—even slightly familiar.

Everything had happened so fast. One minute, he had been soundly sleeping, and the next, all hell broke loose. The red alert klaxon had blared as explosions had echoed from various consoles. He had tried calling the bridge, sickbay, engineering—but to no avail.

And, oddly enough, he didn‘t think for a moment of his own safety. All that mattered was getting to B‘Elanna. Why, he didn‘t know, but a strange ache in his gut told him that she was hurt—maybe seriously. He had to make sure she was okay.

But how? a part of him mocked. *You‘re blind. You‘re helpless. You can‘t DO anything!*
I can too! he told himself firmly. *Just because I‘m blind doesn‘t mean I can‘t contribute. B‘Elanna said so.*
*And just what are you going to do, Paris? Face it, there isn‘t anything that you CAN do.*

There is so! I can do something to help, and I‘ll prove it His energy renewed, Tom continued to grope for the door. If he couldn‘t get it open, then he‘d find something else to try. But he would get to B‘Elanna.

I left him alone, B‘Elanna fretted, working feverishly at her console. *I left him all alone because of my stupid temper. I should have been there with him—helping him—doing SOMETHING with him—but I left him alone. And now he‘s trapped in his quarters, probably scared to death, maybe injured, maybe—no. Oh, gods, no. Please, not that. Anything but that.*

"How are the repairs to the unlocking mechanisms coming?" she yelled.
"Almost done," Carey responded.

"Good." It‘s all my fault, B‘Elanna thought. *I left him alone. If he‘s hurt, if he‘s—seriously hurt—it‘ll be all my fault. I should have arranged for someone to be with him. I should have asked Harry or Sam Wildman or someone to help him—but I was too damn stubborn. Tom, you have to be all right! Please, let him be all right!*
"Got it!" Carey crowed as the doors to Engineering slid open.

B‘Elanna didn‘t even hesitate. She dashed out of the door, hightailing her way to Tom‘s quarters. Please, her mind echoed. *Let him be all right!*

Yes! Tom thought jubilantly as the doors slid open. *They‘re fixed!*

He felt his way into the corridor, where the sound of a crying baby eminated shrilly from the quarters next to his.
Christine Wildman, he thought, blindly groping for the entrance.
Sam‘s daughter.

He found his way into their quarters, crawling on the floor until his hand discovered warm flesh—he quickly determined it to be Samantha Wildman. She was lying on the floor, apparently unconscious, and bleeding heavily from a large gash on her upper arm.
Let‘s see. First you apply pressure directly on the wound, he remembered, ripping a strip of fabric from his shirt. He felt smug for a moment, recalling how his father had thought he wasn‘t paying attention in the first-aid course at the Academy. Shows what you knew, Dad.

While he was attending to Sam, he reached over and felt for the tiny hand of little Christine, whose cries had dissolved into whimpers once she detected another presence in the room.

"It‘s okay," he said soothingly in the general direction of the child.

"Uncle Tommy‘s here. It‘ll be okay."

The child crawled to his side and onto his lap, burying her face in his chest. Tom awkwardly patted her back while holding the makeshift bandage tight on Samantha‘s arm. He wasn‘t even sure if he had placed pressure at the right point on Samantha‘s arm. Only someone with working eyes could be able to tell. And he hoped that help would arrive soon.

No less then five minutes later, help arrived in the form of B‘Elanna Torres. She had been nearly crazy with worry when she had gone into Tom‘s quarters and found no one there. It was then she had heard a murmuring voice from the quarters next door.
"Tom!" she exclaimed in relief.

"Oh, hi, B‘Elanna. Um, am I doing this right?" Tom asked, seeming to be incredibly calm under the circumstances.

B‘Elanna glanced at the unconscious ensign‘s wound. The blood flow had all but stopped, and she could tell that the wound would be easily healed once Samantha was transferred to sickbay. "Yes, it‘s right," she acknowledged in surprise. "Are you okay?"

"I‘m fine, but we have to get Sam to sickbay." Tom seemed indifferent to the worry he had caused B‘Elanna.

"I‘m going to sickbay now," the chief engineer told him. "I‘ll get Kes or the doctor. Tom, how—I mean, I—I‘m sorry."

Tom blinked at the abrupt change in subjects, but quickly recovered. "For what?"

"For leaving you alone. I should have made sure someone was with you—you could have been hurt—or—or worse."

"I can take care of myself. Just because I‘m blind doesn‘t mean I‘m helpless," Tom grinned, repeating her own dictate back to her. "Go on, Torres. Go get the doctor."
B‘Elanna turned towards the door.

"And, B‘Elanna--?"


"Apology accepted. And thanks for slapping some sense into me."

Go to Part Eight: Love Is Blind: A Pair Of Blue Eyes

Copyright 1997 by JoAnna Walsvik; all rights reserved and most of the lefts, too. Archive, distribute, etc.; but keep my name and the disclaimer attached.